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The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 12 September 1956 (USA)
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3:21 | Trailer
A housewife suspects that her seemingly perfect eight-year-old daughter is a heartless killer.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (screenplay), Maxwell Anderson (play) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Nancy Kelly ... Christine Penmark
Patty McCormack ... Rhoda Penmark
Henry Jones ... Leroy Jessup
Eileen Heckart ... Hortense Daigle
Evelyn Varden ... Monica Breedlove
William Hopper ... Col. Kenneth Penmark
Paul Fix ... Richard Bravo
Jesse White ... Emory Wages
Gage Clarke ... Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker
Joan Croydon Joan Croydon ... Claudia Fern (as Joan Croyden)
Frank Cady ... Henry Daigle
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Storyline

Christine Penmark seems to have it all: a lovely home, a loving husband and the most "perfect" daughter in the world. But since childhood, Christine has suffered from the most terrible recurring nightmare. And her "perfect" daughter's accomplishments include lying, theft and possibly much, much worse. Only Christine knows the truth about her daughter and only Christine's father knows the truth about her nightmare. Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

For little Rhoda, murder is child's play. See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bad Seed See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Henreid tried to buy the rights to the play. He wanted to direct and was planning to cast Bette Davis in the role of the mother. See more »

Goofs

When Christine is reading a book to Rhoda, you can clearly see the cover and the title "Inside the Castle Wall". Later, when the Rhoda has fallen asleep and Christine closes up the book, you can see a gold (or silver) disk on the cover which wasn't there before. See more »

Quotes

Christine Penmark: This is my daughter, Rhoda.
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: Hello, Rhoda. Well, isn't she a little sweetheart!
Rhoda: Thank you.
[she curtsies]
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: That's the kind of thing that makes an old bachelor wish he were married.
Rhoda: Oh, you like little girls to curtsy?
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: The best thing left out of the Middle Ages.
Rhoda: I'm having dinner upstairs.
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: The loss is ours. All ours.
Christine Penmark: You may go now, Rhoda.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

"You have just seen a motion picture whose theme dares to be startlingly different. May we ask that you do not divulge the unusual climax of the story. Thank you." See more »

Connections

Featured in The Road to God Knows Where (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Au clair de la lune
(uncredited)
Attributed to Jean-Baptiste Lully
Played on the piano by Patty McCormack and whistled by Henry Jones
Played often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The devil wore dotted swiss.
27 April 2005 | by poccaSee all my reviews

Minor 1950's classic that holds up well fifty year later. The film does have its flaws. Occasionally it has the feel of a staged play--at times it seems Mrs. Penmark has to answer the door every five minutes so as to get the other major characters on screen. The Freudian psychobabble and the altered ending add an unnecessary half hour or so to the running time. And the acting can be very overwrought (although the scene in which Mrs. Penmark is screaming in the apartment as Leroy screams outside--both counterpointed by Rhoda's untalented but very loud rendition of "Au Clair de la Lune"--is a moment of high camp horror on par with anything in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?") Still the movie works, largely because of Rhoda, the eerily self controlled little murderess who despite her sweet smiles always looks at though her hair is braided a bit too tight. It helps that an actress was cast who was cute enough, but not too pretty--Patty McCormack looks like a miniature gargoyle when she drops the sunny mask and starts roaring. Leroy, the leering simple minded caretaker is almost as unsettling--the scenes in which he sadistically taunts Rhoda almost amount to a very twisted flirtation, as he is clearly more delighted than appalled by her capacity for evil (at least until he learns just how far this capacity goes).

I haven't seen the 1980's remake, but I can't see how it could top the original, if only because evil little girls in jeans and T-shirts just aren't as scary as evil little girls with hair bows and starched frocks.


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